Understanding the world we cannot see with the naked eye

Photo by Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplas


There is a vast world that humans cannot see with the naked eye.  Many of these life forms / organisms are foundational to the existence to the homeostasis of this earth.  Some maybe beneficial to humans while others create havoc, sickness and death.  With great thanks to the researchers, thinkers, and scientists that lived before us, we know more about these seemingly invisible creatures, some that are harmful to the point of death for humans.  We also know some methods to reduce or eliminate them from harming us.  The single best method is hand washing.  Washing your hands sounds simple, easy and a “no brainer.”   Yet, in light of recent explosions of COVID19 worldwide, hand washing is getting a close look.  So, let’s see at what researchers are looking at and some of their conclusions that will help us to avoid sickness and more importantly spreading sickness!

TOPICS OF RESEARCHERS: the subject of hand washing is quite extensive, so we reviewed the CDC and WHO recommendations and their topics of research and reports.  At the end of the discussion there will be bibliographic links to both the WHO document and the CDC website.

Topics of handwashing:

  • Steps of washing your hands (World Health Organization, 2009)
    • Wet hands
    • Use soap and lather
    • Continue to lather and rub hands for at least 20 seconds.  The more time spent here actually breaks down more bacteria and viruses.
    • Rinse
    • Dry hands
  • Types of soaps, alcohols, detergents used and which is the most preferred
  • Rinsing hands to remove as much of soap, bacteria, and viruses as possible
  • Drying hands is a very important step to further remove unwanted contaminated debris from your hands

Steps of Washing your Hands

  1. After wetting hands, and applying soap, it is recommended to turn running water off.  That can propose a problem depending on how faucets are designed. Suffice to say, that is your call.  AND, although wetness supports the increased ability for bacteria and viruses to remain on hands, the following steps are required.

2. Using soaps or other chemically based detergents are useful in that their chemical make up increases the destruction of the contaminants.  Also, important here is that using soaps increases your tendency to rub hands together that increases friction which is another method to the

destruction of contaminants.  The interesting discovery (although it may be a no brainer to you), is that this step when performed for longer periods of time dramatically reduced the amount of any residual contaminants on the skin.  So 30 – 40 seconds, or longer maybe required.

3. Rinsing hands. Obviously clean running water is preferred to a basin of water, to increase the thoroughness of removing the soap and any remaining live contaminants on your hands. (CDC, 2020), (World Health Organization, 2009)

 4. Drying your hands.  This is an interesting and important component as research is indicating.  Always use disposable paper towels.  Using any reusable cloth towel only allows for any live remaining contaminant to now be on the surface of that towel.  Paper towels were also found to be superior to hot air or high speed air hand dryers .  Air dryers can increase any live remaining contaminant into the air, thus cross contamination occurs.  Your hands need to be completely dry; No WETTNESS post drying.  Again, remember, wetness allows bacteria and viruses to survive.  And, since these creatures can be so harmful, completely drying your hands is essential. (Cunrui Huang, et al, 2012)

Don’t ignore or be so cavalier regarding such a simple yet so very effective means of destroying those invisible organisms that can cause human lives!


CDC. (2020, March 20). Show Me the Science – How to Wash Your Hands. Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html

Cunrui Huang, et al. (2012). The Hygienic Efficacy of Different Hand-Drying. Mayo Clinic, 87(8):791-798. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538484/

World Health Organization. (2009). WHO Guidelines . Geneva: WHO. https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/tools/9789241597906/en/